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SBIR Phase I:Clean Iron and Nickel Powder Production for Steel Construction on the Meridiani Planum of Mars and Cathode Manufacture for Lithium-Ion Batteries on Earth

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2233554
Agency Tracking Number: 2233554
Amount: $275,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: SP
Solicitation Number: NSF 22-551
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-08-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-07-31
Small Business Information
7025 Alden Dr
West Bloomfield, MI 48324
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Rolf Olsen
 (248) 533-2882
Business Contact
 Rolf Olsen
Phone: (248) 533-2882
Research Institution

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is a technology to explore the utility in the ubiquity of iron on both Earth and Mars. The ores of many metals are iron-rich, mixed materials, including those of 33+ metals critical for a sustainable future. However, high iron content is a nuisance for most established metal extractions. For example, iron, rare earth elements, and unextracted aluminum remain in the vast tailing ponds generated by aluminum feed processing. This project develops a better method for processing many mixed-material industrial wastes and ores. The method is called fast iron carbonylation and is expected to lower the cost of iron and nickel powders, add value by making better concentrates of rare earth elements and many other energy metals, and clean up metal processing and waste sites. This process will inexpensively and profitably produce metal feeds for battery manufacturing and enable the benefits of clean electric transport. The fast iron carbonylation-based steel-making hardware is rugged, simple-to-operate, and light weight. _x000D_
This SBIR Phase I project develops and tests a reactor to carry out fast iron carbonylation. Iron and nickel carbonylation are reversible, exothermic gas/solid reactions. Carbonylation in state-of-the-art, industrial-scale reactors is significantly impeded such that, at large scales, achieving high per-unit volume reaction rates is challenging. The proposed fast iron carbonylation reactor seeks to drive the reversible reactions far from equilibrium to achieve net carbonyl production at least 10 times faster than state-of-the-art carbonylation. The project will run tests on relevant mixed-material metal ores and industrial wastes at scales much larger than are typical for benchtop experiments (~5 kg samples). These tests aim to extract close to 100% of the iron and nickel in the test samples and produce residues that can be readily processed to produce high value concentrates of rare earth elements and other critical metals._x000D_
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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